Re: ULE: covert vs overt

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Wed Apr 18 2001 - 03:26:40 MDT

Sue them! Here, the pronoun is subjective. That means, there are laws about
who gets to look at who, and we all would get to see, for having functional

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> Michael Wiik wrote:
> >
> > ULE = ubiquitous law enforcement
> >
> > Let's assume as a given that within a short number of years, say maybe
> > 20, that the capability of a single individual to cause widespread havoc
> > will will be tremendously increased from what's possible today. Henious
> > crimes will be like the news snippets in a Halperin novel. In short,
> > we'll have to monitor every molecule. Failure to do so could result in
> > the extinction of the human race.
> >
> > Given this assumption, what is the effectiveness of covert as opposed to
> > overt monitoring? Which is more prone to abuse?
> >
> > I see extropian/libertarian choices as:
> >
> > 1) Continue opposition to the whole 'Transparent Society' concept,
> > forcing monitoring to be covert. Abuses and unaccountability are
> > implicitly encouraged.
> >
> > 2) Embrace overt monitoring, and (to borrow a theme from Microsoft)
> > extend it, by demanding LE resources be taken away from victimless vice
> > crimes and applied directly to anti-terrorism efforts. This might also
> > include national policy changes to avoid pissing off half the world.
> >
> > My belief is that the 2nd approach would result in maximum
> > accountability and more actual liberty. However I welcome other choices
> > or arguments as to why my premises are incorrect.
> I don't have much intersection with this particular sphere, but to my
> mind, the primary issue has always been whether "monitoring" will be the
> tool of government or the open province of individuals. A society in
> which every individual has the capability to monitor every other would be
> very interesting, and probably superior (in both safety and society) to a
> government-controlled monitoring system. Better yet would be no monitors
> at all. Even *better* might be a system in which all elected officials
> are subject to 24-hour total monitoring while all the citizens live out
> their opaque lives. I have little emotional stake in these opinions, but
> I nonetheless wish to point out that the above dualism may parse up the
> problem along the wrong axis. Not covert versus overt; public versus
> private.
> -- -- -- -- --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

I think you have it a little wrong, the public servants are only available for
public monitoring while at work, and not when it would unduly disturb them,
but all the time, that is, it would not not be taped. That is also to say,
someone could arguably claim that when they went to the bathroom while being a
police officer or fireman that that "video" was relatively private, and not
"generally available". Yet, if any question arose about the actions of the
police officer or officers while they were in the bathroom where the answer
affected the public interest, then that would actually be on file.

Private citizens, for example, police officers at home, could expect relative
privacy. For example, if the officer had an illicit home manufactury and it
was next to an open window in a side yard not generally accessible to the
public, then it could not be used by itself for being there in the sense of it
being contrary to the law. Alternatively, if someone saw the police officer
performing a violent crime through the window on their otherwise private
property, then that could actually be used by the citizen who could see
through the relatively private property to notify the authorities of the
suspicion of a violent act in progress. So, there would be less anonymous


Ross Andrew Finlayson
Finlayson Consulting
Ross at Tiki-Lounge:
"It's always one more."  - Internet multi-player computer game player

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:47 MDT